Wenger denies deal talk

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger's current contract is until the end of next season and he insists that he has not been offered an extension.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger's current contract is until the end of next season and he insists that he has not been offered an extension.PHOTO: ACTION IMAGES

He says focus is on immediate future and he's committed to current contract

LONDON • Arsene Wenger, whose current contract at Arsenal runs until the end of next season, has dismissed reports that he has been offered an extension as "absolutely false".

The Frenchman will have been in charge of the north London football club for 20 years next October, and he maintains that he will not make any decisions about the future until his existing contract is coming to an end.

On the subject of a new deal, Wenger said yesterday: "That's completely wrong and I don't know where this information comes from.

"You can treat that as just an invention. It's absolutely false. I would like the press to check the information before they give it out because they could have checked with the club or with myself and we'd both have denied it."

The Times had reported earlier in the day that Arsenal want Wenger to sign a new contract at the start of next season despite a turbulent campaign that is likely to conclude with the club finishing below north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur for the first time since 1995.

The London newspaper said that Stan Kroenke, the majority shareholder, has prepared a new deal - believed to be a two-year extension on his present contract - that the club will urge Wenger to sign promptly if they make a strong start to the next campaign.

Kroenke wants an answer by October because he wants time to identify a replacement if the Frenchman chooses to retire next summer at the end of his existing deal.

Wenger's position has been the subject of increased debate among Arsenal fans this season, with a growing number calling for him to be dismissed.

At a sensitive time, with supporter unrest bubbling at recent matches, Wenger insists he will only be focusing on the immediate future, beginning with tomorrow's final Premier League match against Aston Villa, and then a full assessment of this campaign in order to best prepare for next season.

"I think about the next game you know," he said. "At my stage, you want to do well.

I'm committed with integrity and commitment, full commitment for the club, as long as I'm under contract. At the moment that's all.

"What I focus on is to respect my contract and after I envisage what I do after. I can understand that people are interested in that but that's not the most important. I will see where I am personally and where the club stands at the end of my contract."

He knocked back the idea that it might be harder to sign players if his known commitment only extends to the summer of 2017.

But he acknowledged the need to address the striker situation following Danny Welbeck's injury.

"We need to think about that," he said. "If a player is out for nine months you have to consider that for the season and that leaves you short on the striker front."

This weekend, Arsenal host relegated Aston Villa and a point will guarantee third place.

Wenger hopes they can squeeze into second place if rivals Tottenham slip up at Newcastle.

"We want to finish as high as possible and if possible in front of Spurs," he said. "We fight until the end."

THE GUARDIAN, THE TIMES, LONDON

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 14, 2016, with the headline 'Wenger denies deal talk'. Print Edition | Subscribe